No player guaranteed a start as Curle reveals he has a fully-fit Cobblers squad to pick from
Keith Curle insists no player is 'guaranteed a start' as he has the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from for Sunday's FA Cup second round clash with Notts County.
The Town boss will have something of an embarrassment of riches to select from for Sunday's date with the Magpies at the PTS (ko 2pm).
Midfielder Shaun McWilliams has returned to training this week after recovering from appendicitis, while Egli Kaja, Jack Newell and Ryan Hughes are also fit again after struggling with strains in recent weeks.
With Ryan Watson having returned to action in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Grimsby Town and Joe Martin also fully recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered in October, Curle suddenly has a full squad to pick from.
And he insists that, despite the team being on a run of six wins in seven in all competitions, there are first team places up for grabs.
"I pick the team on a Thursday, so the early part of the week is as important as the latter stages of the week when we go through the finer details," said the Cobblers boss.
"Players always have an opportunity to impress, because they understand they are in an environment whereby there is competition for places, which is excellent
"I don't think there is one player in that team who is guaranteed a starting berth. That is based on whether it is technical or tactical, we have a very competitive squad.
“It is all about how they train.
"It doesn’t matter if they have played and we have won, it is all about the levels of training.
"If there are signs or signals that I am not happy with, then the players get told, they get the chance to get in line with what’s needed, and then the team is picked.”
With three matches coming up in the space of six days, the timing of the squad's fitness boost couldn’t be better.
The Cobblers take on the National League Magpies in the FA Cup on Sunday, before travelling to Portsmouth in the leasing.com Trophy on Tuesday and then back on the road to Exeter City in the league the following Saturday.
And it is a schedule that will see Curle utilise his squad to the full.
“Everybody came through training on Monday and Tuesday,”said the Town manager. “We have a full complement of players and that’s what we want, we want a competitive squad.
“We knew we were operating with a smaller squad, and you always have it in your mind that you will have to operate with 20 per cent of your team missing.
“We have had that and still managed to be competitive, and now we have a full squad of players fit and available, which is great.”